Last night, I had a scheduled reading and signing at Aaron's Books, a bookstore in my hometown of Lititz, PA. The event coincided with Lovin' Lititz Every Second, a monthly celebration of the arts and business in the downtown sector.
My hometown is one of those tight communities with a rich sense of its own history. It is a small town that is often described as quaint when the travel bureau or TV newscasters are grabbing for adjectives. The downtown is bustling with shops in an era that has seen the erosion of many such Main Streets. (About a decade ago, Lititz successfully fended off the advances of Wal-Mart--if that is any indication.) I say all this to give a backdrop, but it is really the people who make it into the place I like to call home.
Last night was just an indication of that. I signed about 70 books for classmates, teachers, church members, friends of friends, neighbors. My second grade teacher, who is mentioned in the acknowledgements of my book, brought me a gorgeous Gerber daisy--one of my favorite flowers. My novel deals with some sensitive issues, so the fact that my town was willing to embrace it, meant so much to me.
I am working on a third novel. It is in its infancy, but I would really like to use Lititz for the setting. My publishing company publishes a lot of work by southern writers who are known for their sense of place, the ability to make their locations breathe as if they were characters. I've often admired that style of literature. Could I, as a northern writer, invoke the same sense of place?